Selasa, Ogos 05, 2008

Case Study : Political Development Regarding to the Ethnicity Problems in Malaysia

Malaysia is a country that bridges mainland and peninsular Southeast Asia. Most of Malaysia occupies the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of Thailand. It is sometimes called Malaya, or Peninsular or West Malaysia. Also on Borneo are Kalimantan (part of Indonesia) and the nation of Brunei. Malaya gained independence from British rule in 1957[2]. Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak joined Malaya in 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia, but Singapore withdrew from the federation in 1965. As a nation, Malaysia has faced the problem of unifying its diverse population, composed of Malays, Chinese, and Indians.
The indigenous population are the Malays[3], who compose more than 50% of the population. They are predominantly rural and traditionally have held the greatest political power. Another 30% of the population are Chinese, the descendants of late-19th- and early-20th-century immigrants. Primarily urban dwellers, the Chinese have traditionally dominated the economy. Non-Malay indigenous tribal peoples, who represent 8% of the population, are heavily concentrated in East Malaysia. Dayaks, Ibans, and Kadazans are the largest ethnic groups.
Malaysia's government is modeled after the British system, somewhat modified because Malaysia's federal structure incorporates 13 states and two federal territories. A monarch, the supreme ruler, is elected every five years by the nine traditional rulers of Malaya, the sultans. The bicameral parliament is composed of a partially appointed senate and a House of Representatives whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage. The leading party, the National Front, is actually a coalition of political parties primarily representing Malaysia's ethnic groups.
Historically[i], the Buddhist Srivijaya Empire, centered in Sumatra, ruled most of the Malay Peninsula from the 9th to the 13th century. During the 14th century most of the population was converted to Islam under a Muslim Malay state centered at Malacca, on the west coast of the peninsula. By 1786 the British had acquired Penang Island, and gradually their influence spread. In 1895 they created the colony of the Federated Malay States. Under British governance the rubber plantations were established and tin mining began.
In 1948 the Malayan Communist party began a guerrilla insurrection called the Emergency, which was not suppressed until 1960. In 1957 the Federation of Malaya attained independence, and Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first prime minister. The Federation of Malaysia, consisting of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah, was created in 1963; Singapore seceded from it in 1965.
Ethnicity Problems

Bumiputera Groups

The bumiputera groups themselves are highly differentiated. There are three broad categories:
1. the aborigines (orang asli)
2. the Malay-related. The orang asli represent the oldest element in the population but survive in only small numbers and in scattered groups, mainly in the Malay Peninsula.
3. The third or non-Malay bumiputera category consists of ethnic groups found in Sarawak and Sabah.
The Malays form the predominant ethnic group in the Malay Peninsula, a substantial minority in Sarawak and a smaller group in Sabah. A distinction may be drawn between those Malays long settled in the country, especially the Malays of the East Coast of the peninsula, in Sarawak, Sabah (and Brunei), and those who crossed the Straits of Malacca from Sumatra and settled in considerable numbers during the latter part of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Other ethnic groups regarded for practical purposes as Malays, and most of whom have settled in the country (mainly in the Malay Peninsula) since 1850, include the Javanese - especially on the western coasts of Johor, Selangor and Lower Perak, the Banjarese, Boyanese, Bugis and Minangkabau. Into the same category also fall the Bajau of Sabah. The quick assimilation of these groups into the Malay community is a result of common cultural traits and, above all, the bond of Islam.

In Sarawak the largest of these are the Iban who also form the largest ethnic group in the state, while others include the Bidayuh (formerly known as Land Dayaks), the Melanau, Kenyah, Kayan and Bisayah. In Sabah the Kadazan (Dusun) form the largest single ethnic group, with the Murut, Kelabit, and Kedayan forming significant minorities. These groups represent peoples of the same basic stock who entered the country during the period of early migration. They followed a shifting mode of agriculture, and have acquired their present identities and characteristics in a process of separation and refusion over centuries.

Non-Bumiputera Groups

These consists primarily of the Chinese and the Indians, with much smaller communities made up of Arabs, Sinhalese, Eurasians and Europeans. Chinese and Indian contacts with Malaysia go back to the dawn of history but there was no substantial permanent settlement in the country by these two groups until the nineteenth century - with the exception of the Chinese Baba community of Melaka who can trace their ancestry to sixteenth century Melaka. The reason for the massive immigration of Chinese and Indians that started to take place in the nineteenth century was the rapid economic development that began under the impact of the forces of the Industrial revolution and the laissez-faire policies followed by the new British colonial administration in the Straits Settlements. The Chinese found opportunities for investment and labour in the expanding tin mining industry and the Indians primarily as agricultural labour on coffee and later rubber estates.
Immigration into the Malay Peninsula and into the Borneo territories remained unrestricted until 1931 when the impact of the Great Depression forced the imposition of controls. However, up till this point the nature of Chinese and Indian immigration was essentially transitory and the number of local-born Chinese and Indians was low in proportion to the total number of immigrants in the country. The imposition of immigration controls reduced the number of immigrants drastically, rapidly normalised the sex ratio, and resulted in predominantly local-born Chinese and Indian communities. The outbreak of the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation effectively ended Chinese and Indian immigration altogether.
The Chinese population of Malaysia is derived largely from South China, with the Cantonese and Hokkien forming the largest dialect groups. Amongst the Indians the largest group are the Tamils from South India and Sri Lanka, with significant Sikh and Malayalee minorities.
The territory which is now Malaysia was successively colonized by the Portuguese (1511), the Dutch (1618), and the British (1874) for trade, especially in tin, rubber and other commodities. This attracted a growing number of immigrants, mostly Chinese and Indian, who settled alongside the native Malays.When after a brief period of Japanese occupation during World War II, Britain attempted to impose a more centralized system of government than had existed previously, a new sense of Malayan nationalism surfaced. This was fuelled in part by anti-Chinese prejudice engendered by the growing economic clout of the Chinese immigrants.
The Imposition of British Rule
In the 18th century, the British became active in the area, partly in search of trade, but also to check French power in the Indian Ocean; in 1786 the sultan of Kedah, looking for help against the Siamese, leased the island of Pinang to the British East India Company. In 1819 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company founded Singapore, and in 1824 Britain acquired Malacca from the Dutch. Singapore, Pinang, and Malacca (collectively known as the Straits Settlements) were then British-run.
From about 1850, tin-mining activity greatly expanded in the Malay Peninsula, and Malay rulers and the immigrant Chinese they employed became involved in territorial disputes. Fearful that these might disrupt trade, the British then took control of the peninsular states, working indirectly through the Malay rulers. Using diplomacy and taking advantage of dynastic quarrels, they persuaded the rulers to accept British “residents” or “advisers,” who dictated policy. Before World War II (1939-1945) the native states were classified as either federated or unfederated. The main difference between the two groups was that British control was somewhat looser in the unfederated states. The federated states were Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Pahang. The unfederated states were Johor and the four northern states, which were acquired by the British from Siam in 1909. At the top of the British system of rule was a high commissioner, who was also governor of the Straits Settlements.
The present Malaysian territories in Borneo were largely under the domination of the powerful Muslim state of Brunei until the 19th century. Before then, Europeans had traded there but had not made any permanent settlements. In 1841, however, the sultan of Borneo rewarded Sir James Brooke, an English adventurer who had helped him suppress rebels, with a gift of land and the title raja of Sarawak; Brooke and his successors expanded the territory. To the east, the sultans of Brunei and Sulu also granted land to Europeans; this was eventually purchased by the British North Borneo (Chartered) Company in 1882. British North Borneo and Sarawak became British protectorates in 1888.
The Coming of Independence
Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo were seized by the Japanese in 1942 and remained under Japanese occupation until World War II ended in 1945. The movement for independence that emerged after the war was complicated by ethnic rivalries. The British had encouraged Chinese and Indian immigration in order to supply labor needed by the tin, rubber, and other industries. In the 1940s the population of the Malay states was approximately 50 percent Malay, 37 percent Chinese, and 12 percent Indian. Divisions between these groups were deep, coinciding substantially with religious and linguistic differences. With independence approaching, Malays were concerned that immigrants might acquire political power. In 1946 they protested successfully against a scheme, known as the Malayan Union, that would have given most immigrants citizenship and voting rights, while reducing the power of the Malay rulers.
The Alliance, the dominant political party that emerged in the 1950s, was multiethnic at the top, but also ensured separate representation of ethnic groups through three component parties: the United Malays National Organization, the Malayan Chinese Association, and the Malayan Indian Congress. It won an overwhelming victory in the first nationwide elections in 1955. The British and the Alliance worked out the constitution, providing for a federal state, a two-house parliament (one house elected and one appointed), citizenship for most non-Malays, and protection for the Malays, who were regarded as less economically developed and were given preference for civil service jobs, scholarships, and licenses. In 1957, the Federation of Malaya (which occupied what is now West Malaysia) gained independence from Great Britain. It joined the United Nations that same year.
Even as the British were forced to capitulate on their earlier grand plans for a 'Malayan Union' and to promise eventual self-rule for the federation of Malayan states in 1948, a growing number of radical elements led by the Malayan Communist Party began an insurrection, using terrorist tactics. This led to the declaration of a state of emergency by the British administration in 1948 and to a largely successful, if costly, 12-year guerilla war against the communist insurgents in which some 11,000 lives were reportedly lost.
Meanwhile, as the prospects of independence grew, there emerged a degree of political cooperation between the three racial groups. A new political party, called the Alliance Party,was formed in partnership between the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC). Britain finally granted independence to the Federation of Malaya in 1957. An attempt soon after independence to form a larger regional entity including the Borneo territories and Singapore failed and what remained came to be called the modern state of Malaysia.
In 1961 Tunku Abdul Rahman, first prime minister of Malaya, proposed a Malaysian federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo (later called Sabah), and Brunei. All but Brunei joined in a federation in 1963. Economic and political disputes led to Singapore's exit in 1965.
Malaysian politics have been dominated by ethnic disputes that in the 1960s centered on language and education. At the 1969 general elections, the Alliance faced opposition from both Malay and non-Malay parties. Immediately afterward serious rioting broke out in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and at least 200 people were killed. Emergency powers were invoked, restrictions were imposed on raising ethnically sensitive issues, and parliament did not meet again until 1971.
The new prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, announced a new economic policy to alleviate poverty in general, but also to improve specifically the economic condition of the Malays by increasing their share of the country's wealth and their percentage of employment in occupations in which non-Malays were predominant. He also broadened the Alliance (already extended to Sarawak and Sabah) into the National Front, which included some opposition parties. The Front won the 1974 elections decisively and also, under Prime Minister Datuk Hussein Onn, the 1978 elections. The political scene, however, was still dominated by ethnicity, and the National Front was opposed by two major opposition parties: the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party, now placing increasing emphasis on religion, and the Democratic Action Party. When Hussein Onn retired in 1981, he was succeeded by his deputy, Mahathir bin Muhammad.
A constitutional conflict in 1983 between the Mahathir government and the hereditary sultans led to a compromise restricting the power of Malaysia's head of state to veto certain legislation. In 1987 the Mahathir government responded to the alleged threat of rising tensions between Malays and Chinese by arresting opposition leaders and suspending four newspapers. Elections in 1990 maintained the government in power with a commanding parliamentary majority. Constitutional amendments passed in 1993 and 1994 further restricted the powers of the head of state. The amendments prohibited the nine hereditary rulers from pardoning themselves or their families from criminal charges and removed the head of state's power to delay legislation. The ruling party gained an even greater majority in the elections of 1995, and Mahathir retained his seat as prime minister.

May 13 Riots 1969[4]
A state of emergency, this time covering the whole country, was declared in 1969 when large-scale rioting and racial violence broke out in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur while a general election was in progress. In that election, there was an unprecedented shift in popular preferences, with the Malaysian Chinese Association losing nearly half its strength in parliament .The resulting violence led to several hundred casualties. The government swiftly postponed further elections, suspended several parts of the constitution and established a National Operations Council to take over the administration of the country. And although the legislature was reconvened and normal constitutional government restored in February 1971, the state of emergency proclaimed on 15 May 1969 was never revoked.
In the seven general elections which have been held since the formation of Malaysia (the most recent being in 1990), the ruling coalition of political parties--formerly the Alliance, but expanded in 1971 to become the National Front-has easily retained is majority in parliament. However, in 1969 for the first and up till now the only time, the coalition lost its overall two - thirds majority. Communal tensions resulted in the 13 May 1969 incident in Kuala Lumpur, leading to the establishment of an emergency Government--the National Operations Council. Parliamentary rule was restored in 1971. Since 1971 the broad aim of the administration has been the fulfilment of the New Economic Policy which is designed to eradicate poverty regardless of race, and to eliminate the identification of occupation with race. The economic prosperity achieved in the 1970s enabled the administrations of Tun Abdul Razak, who succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman as premier in 1970, and Tun Hussein Onn who took over on the death of Tun Razak in 1976, to make considerable process towards these ends. At the same time, Malaysia established a more independent foreign policy, helping found ASEAN in 1967, recognising Communist China in 1974, and identifying the nation with the non-aligned countries of the Third World.
The 1980 shave brought new political directions and economic challenges. The administration of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (1981) has seen the search for new sources of support and development (the Look East Policy), the initiation of a bold policy of heavy industrialization (the national car, a steel industry and oil refineries) and an aggressive foreign policy asserting the interests of the undeveloped South versus those of the developed nations of the North. At the same time the i pact of the world wide trade recession has forced Malaysians to face up to new economic realities. The ruling coalition of parties in the National Front (Barisan Nasional) continues to dominate the political arena but a number of developments, including the coming of age of a new generation of voters, suggest that there may be changes in the traditional patterns of Malaysian politics.
The 20-year New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced in 1991 shifted emphasis from the previous goal of fostering greater economic equity among Malaysia's racial communities toward general economic growth and the elimination of poverty.
AS a multi-racial society, Malaysia's political and economic stability depends on the different communities living and working together in peace and harmony. Ensuring such good communal relations has been Barisan Nasional's[ii] (United Front) main contribution to a stable nation.
The Barisan's success is therefore due to its ability to bring together the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minority groups for their common good. It can do this because the Barisan, since the days of the Alliance Party, has always stuck to the principle that the various racial groups must be united in purpose and work for the nation's progress and growth.
When independence was achieved in 1957, few people, including many Malayans as we were known then, gave the country little chance of achieving this racial unity and harmony. They argued that the main races were too diverse in religion, language and even in the food they eat.
But what many of these critics overlooked was the determination of the founding fathers to make things work. They had to succeed or else the consequences would be too disastrous to imagine. This was made easier because right from the start, leaders such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V.T. Sambanthan were convinced that things could work.
The population is made up of roughly 50 per cent Malays, 30 per cent Chinese, 10 per cent Indians with other races making up the balance. This is therefore a very mixed bag and unless handled with care and tact, it is quite easy for racial problems to crop up. The fact that this nation has been living in peace and harmony for so many years is testimony to the ability of the Barisan leadership in dealing with such a sensitive issue which has led to the downfall and ruin many a country with similar racial and religious diversities.

Tribute for this must therefore go to the farsightedness of the founders of the Alliance Party and now the Barisan Nasional who right from the start realised that there could be no future without racial harmony. Even today, the Barisan under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is fully aware of this fact. He and his other Barisan colleagues know that all that they have built could go up in smoke if the various communities should harbour any suspicion and distrust each other's motives and intentions.
How have the other races other than Malays benefited under the Barisan government? It cannot be denied that they have done well both before and after independence. The Chinese are a hardy people, tough and resilient and all that they need is the opportunity to make a go of things and they will be able to more than survive. In Malaysia, they have not only received such opportunities but what is even more important is that they have been accepted as partners in all spheres of activities. The Indians started their life in Malaysia in estates and plantations sectors during the colonial period and had to survived in a poor and hard lifestyle as well. There are a few things which any community would be concerned with and the other races are no exception. To look at how multi-racial society have benefited under the government policy, it is necessary to look at several areas of interest to them which includes politics, the economy, education and religion.
Politically, from the beginning, these different races have been involved in the political struggle for independence. Under the MCA (for the Chinese), they teamed up with UMNO to spearhead the Alliance Party, which was later joined by the MIC of Indians, to participate actively in elections. This is in fact the most significant development and a turning point for the community. This act alone showed that they were regarded as having a stake as Malayans and not a transient races any longer. By working partnership with UMNO,MCA and MIC, the Alliance party was able to obtain Malayan citizenship for the Chinese and Indians. In future, all people born after independence whose parents are Malaysian will automatically be granted citizenship. They were no longer birds of passage as they could vote and decide on the party of their choice to run the country.
Citizenship and the right to vote therefore are things to be cherished and the people should appreciate such a privilege. By their political involvement, the community can not only vote but nominate candidates to contest the election both via the Barisan and the opposition.
They can also participate in decision-making as several cabinet ministers and deputy ministers come from members of the community. Such appointments are extended to state level where local leaders become executive councillors. The community is therefore very much apart of the political process. The extent of their contributions in nation building depends on the calibre of their leaders in government. The government will always welcome good ideas which can be implemented for the good of the people.
The MCA and MIC remains a key component of the Barisan set-up. Unlike other coalitions which are usually temporary in nature, the Barisan concept is permanent. The Barisan component parties contest elections under one banner. Its component partners do not contest elections separately and only rejoin the coalition after the electoral results are known.
Economically, the Malaysian Chinese and Indians have always enjoyed a degree of independence in the nation's economic activities, both before and after independence. In fact, some of them had managed to make use of the opportunities offered to them by becoming extremely successful in their business activities and achieved great wealth in the process. The majority of them are quite entrepreneurial in nature and all that they require is the chance to do business. They will quickly seize every opening with both hands and take advantage of such situations.
Even with the New Economic Order which was aimed at restructuring society so that the Bumiputras will have a greater share of the economic cake, the other races and ethnics were still able to make a living. The cake might have to be shared but there was sufficient to go round. The fact is that whatever projects and assistance given to the Bumiputras, the non-Malays will be involved albeit indirectly. So long as there was money to be made, no one should quibble over how it was done.
Under the Dr. Mahathir Administration's privatisation programme, there were even more projects up for grabs. Under Dr. Mahathir, the Barisan government has further liberalised its policies and privatised ventures handed out in such a way that every community would benefit from them. The government realises that while it is important to enable the Bumiputras to catch up with the other races economically, it cannot be too one-sided for the sake of harmony. The goodies should be spread evenly so that as many people as possible will enjoy the benefits. This is all for the long-term good of the nation. It is not good that one section of the population should feel deprived to the extent that its members may be prepared to create trouble to show their displeasure. It is through such delicate balancing that the government can maintain political and economic stability.
Not everyone can be a businessman or aspires to be one. It takes a very special breed of people to venture into business which can be rather cruel. People may admire the successful ones but it must not be forgotten that they would have toiled hard for their efforts, For those who wish to be humble wage-earners, there are also plenty of jobs available. There is no restriction in employment in that every citizen is free to choose the work he likes to do regardless their ethnic background. No other ethnics can say that he is unable to get a job as there is full employment; so long as they are not choosy.
Almost every business sector is crying for workers and the situation is so critical that the government has to allow such firms to hire foreign workers. The bottom line is that the people can enjoy the fruits of such development and economic growth. If they are prepared to work hard, they can still make it big in business or in life.
In education, the national language may be Bahasa Malaysia, the rights for other ethnics to six years of free primary education in their mother tongue is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. This is to ensure that they will have the basic education in their own language if they so desire. After that, they can either join the national-type school for their secondary education or they can continue their studies in private secondary schools run by the Chinese and Indians communities.
Those who drew up the Constitution had done so to ensure that education in the Chinese, Indian and other languages would not be disrupted. This is a highly emotional and sensitive issue with the community which would like their languages to be preserved. For instance, there are hundreds of Chinese medium primary schools where the Chinese, and even the non Chinese, can send their children for studies in their own language. Of course, other languages such as Bahasa Malaysia and English are also taught so that they can fit into the mainstream of the educational system later on.
The choice is strictly voluntary. It is up to the parents whether they wish to send their children to a Chinese/Indian-medium or the national-type primary school. They can always switch to the government-type school for their secondary education which many of them are now doing. This system has been working well and there is no move whatsoever to do away with it. The rationale is that is entirely up to the parents to make the decision. This is a rather important concession given to the community.
In addition, these ethnics are not only free to receive a primary education based on their prefered types of school but can speak all the main dialects of their respective clans. There are also scores of Chinese,Indians as well as minorities in Sabah and Sarawak newspapers, weeklies and magazines to cater to the community's needs and interest. In this respect, the people should have little complaint as no other people may admire the successful ones but it must not be forgotten that they would have toiled hard for their efforts, For those who wish to be humble wage-earners, there are also plenty of jobs available. There is no restriction in employment in that every citizen is free to choose the work he likes to do. No people can say that he is unable to get a job as there is full employment; so long as they are not choosy.
In some countries they have to speak in their own dialects furtively for fear of reprisal from the authorities. It is also not necessary for the to change their names. These are freedoms which are precious and should never be taken for granted. This is possible only because of the liberal attitude of the government and the people. And the people must appreciate such a positive atmosphere.
In religious aspect,the different communities are also free to follow the religion of their choice. Though Islam is the official religion, other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism are allowed to flourish freely. There is great religous tolerance and there are many places of worship for those wishing to fulfill their spiritual needs. Generally, the multiracial people have not done too badly under the Barisan government. Of course things are not perfect and there could be improvement. Given the diversities of the communities, the government has done a good job in promoting racial harmony through fair and sound policies. This is possible only because of the good understanding among the Barisan leaders and so long as the give-and-take spirit prevails, the future is bright. At the same time, the people must continue to give their support to the multiracial integration policy so that it can carry on with the good work.The formula which is working and there is no reason to change horse in midstream. The nation needs a good supply of leaders with moderate views and who understand each other's aspirations and needs. In the past decade, Malaysia has come a long way in liberalising its economic and social policies to the further benefit of the people. The country has earned the respect and even envy of both the develop and developing nations. This means that the nation is on the right course towards the Vision 2020 formulated in intention not only to make Malaysia a developed country by the year 2020 but to achieved the ambition of One Country One Nation.


It can be said that in order to develop politically as well as economically, it is important to take into account ethnicity problems in a country especially in a country where there are many ethnic and races with many differences and various customs. Avoid this issue will resulted racial conflicts and tension which is not good not only in the political aspect of it but other aspect as well.
Malaysia had learned the lessons of ignoring this issue which was created by the British during the colonial period. This resulted the May 13 1969 racial riots. The riots has not even deserved in our history books and remains an episode far removed from our lives. The four days of bloody fighting between the ethnic communities have all but forgotten. Maybe the lack of information regarding to the riot is due to fears of the possibility of another incident if we , the masses are reminded to it. On the contrary, it serves as the strongest reminder of what racial disharmony and tension can do to a peaceful nation.
It is important to achieve a greater unity , the creating of a just society in which wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared, and the ensuring of a liberal approach to Malaysia’s rich and diverse cultural traditions.
As far Islamic view is concerned, this is very much similar as Islamic principle also based on equity and just when dealing with the people regardless their religions, ethnic background , color of the skins and other distinguished factors. The concept of Adala (justice) in one of the basic principles in Islamic state. The Muslims and non-Muslim have the same rights . This is important in order to avoid dissatisfaction among people considering the fact the Islamic State during the period of the Prophet and after him also consisted of a multiracial society such as in the case of Malaysia.


Andaya, B.W. & L.Y. (1984) A History of Malaysia. McMillan Press Limited , London.
Apter, D.E. (1967) The Politics of Modernization. The University of Chicago Press.
Jen, D.L. (1982) British Malaya: An Economic Analysis, 2nd Ed. Institute for Social Analysis, Kuala Lumpur.
Kaur,A. (1993) Historical Dictionary of Malaysia. Scarecrow Press, N.J.
Kim,K.K & Adnan Nawang ed. (1984) Darurat : Communist Insurgency 1948-60. Department of History, University Malaya K.L. (Malaysian language edition)
Means, G.P. (1991) Malaysia Politics . Pelanduk Publications , Petaling Jaya.
Shamsul, A.B. (1987) From British to Bumiputra Rule. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.
Shils,E. ed. (1968) Criteria for Scientific Development : Public Policy & National Goals . The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Siddiqui, M.Y.M. (1988) Organization of Government Under the Holy Prophet. Islamic Publication, Lahore, Pakistan.
13th May Tragedy : A Report. National Operation Council 1970.
1997 Encarta Encyclopedia CD-ROM
Encyclopedia Britannica CD-ROM
1997 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM
INTERNET http://
© Hamdan Dato’ Mohd. Salleh

[1] Refer Thomas R. Leinbach in his article titled Malaysia (1997 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM)
[2] Malaysia gained its independent on 31st of August 1957.
[3] Donn V. Hart (Professor of Anthropology & Director , Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University) defined Malays as a mixture of the indigenous inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula who came there in prehistoric times and more recent immigrants from Indonesia. They make up the largest ethnic group in Malaysia. Their language , a member of the Austronesian (or Malayo-Polynesian) family of languages, is written in both a Roman alphabet and an Arabic script. (1997 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM).
[4] Refer May 13 Tragedy : A Report , by National Operation Council 1970.
[5] Ibid, p. 97.

[i] The early history of the area of present-day Malaysia is obscure because of a lack of local documents and the almost complete absence of archaeological remains, especially any with inscriptions. According to Chinese sources, however, early contacts were made with China. Traders also spread Hindu influences from India, which affected people's customs and the rituals of local rulers. Peninsular Malaysia was not unified politically but was split into small kingdoms and subdivided into almost independent chiefdoms, defined by riverine valleys. Rule in Borneo was even more fragmented. Some of the mainland kingdoms were probably subject to a degree of control by larger empires centered in Cambodia or Sumatra. About AD 1400 a great kingdom, Malacca (also spelled Melaka), was founded on the mainland by a refugee prince, possibly from the neighboring state of Johor. He was converted to Islam, which traders from India had already brought to the area, and Malacca became a center for the further spread of the Muslim faith. Malacca prospered and expanded its territory, but in 1511 it was conquered by the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque. The Portuguese in Malacca survived constant fighting with Johor, Achin (also spelled Aceh) in Sumatra, and other states. In 1641, however, the kingdom fell to the Dutch, who replaced the Portuguese as the leading European trading power in the region. Like their predecessors, the Dutch were frequently at war with neighboring kingdoms and succeeded in extending their influence to parts of Johor. In this period the northern Malay kingdoms—Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, and Trengganu—were usually under Siamese influence.(refer to Encarta 97 Encyclopedia CD-ROM)
[ii] The leading national political organization of Malaysia is the National Front, a multiracial coalition of 13 parties. Other major parties holding seats in the house of representatives include the Democratic Action Party, Sabah United Party, Islam Party, and Spirit of 1946 Party.

The Opening of Constantinople to Islam During the Osmanli Devlet


Sultan Mehemmed II or famously known as Sultan Fatih were one of the most important Caliph in the Osmanli Devlet. One of his greatest contributions towards the spread of Islam is the opening of Constantinople to Islam. The city which is the capital of the Byzantine Empire for centuries, finally fall to Islam and mark the end of one of the oldest empire in human civilization. It is a very important city and its opening to Islam were mentioned in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) which clearly mentioned that the city of Constantinople will one day fall to Islam and will be open by a nice army lead by a nice commander.

The commander mentioned in the Hadith is certainly Sultan Fatih who command the opening of Constantinople to Islam. The pious Caliph of the Osmanli Devlet is not only superior academically, politically and militarily, but also religiously intelligent ; the criteria of a truth caliph of Islam. The opening of Constantinople really confirmed his superb leadership and his sacrifice in the way of Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him).

Past Attempt To Open Constantinople

The most notable and major attempt to open the city to Islam by an Osmanli caliph is in the period of Sultan Yildirim Bayezid Khan (1389-1402). Bayezid decide to open the city of Constantinople in order to spread the empire of Osmanli Devlet. His first attempt

were disturbed by the Hungarians Empire who sent a big number of troops to attack the Islamic Devlet. However, Bayezid managed to defeated the Hungarians in 1391 and the victory able him to resume the attack to the Byzantine’s capital which resulted the Byzantine have to accept a peace agreement with the Osmanli Devlet. Unfortunately, due to the a crusade by the Christians formed by the Pope, Bayezid were forced to lift the siege of Constantinople. After the victory against the Christians’ crusaders, he continued the siege with a new strategies; using blockade and at same time stop foods supplies to the city. The strategy were almost to its success until suddenly Timurlenk emerged in the East which caused lots of trouble to the Devlet. The problems of Timurlenk forced Bayezid to stop the attempt to open Istanbul . Constantinople were not open to Islam until the period of Sultan Mehemmed II Fatih in 1453, 64 years after Bayezid start his attempt to open the city to Islam.

The Siege by Sultan Fatih

On Friday, April 6, 1453 , the Osmanli gazis [1] began their attack to captured Constantinople. They have to face a very difficult tasks in order to open the city as the city equipped with a very strong defense. The city were covered by a double layer high walls , 7 meter wide of moat around it. The army have to tackle these obstruction to able them to cross to the city. Although the walls along the Golden Horn are a bit weak compared to the other parts, the Byzantines managed to cover it by stretching a strong chain in the mouth of the gulf. This created a big problems to The Osmanli’s fleet to enter from The Golden Horn.

The first Osmanli’s attack were made in the night of 18th April by try to enter the city by digging holes through the walls . It was a fruitless attempt as the Byzantines defended well . On the other hand , the Byzantines managed strengthen their military capabilities when 3 Genoese ships sent by the Pope arrived in Constantinople on April 20.

The Osmanli Kapudan-i Derya [2] ,Baltaoglu Suleyman Beg fought bravely with his men against the Genoese and were injured in the naval battle. The Genoese were superior than the Osmanli fleets because they have a very strong naval fleet compared to the Osmanli.Hence, the Osmanli navy failed to prevent the Christian navy. This resulted of the dismissal of Baltaoglu Suleyman Beg and was replaced by Hamza Beg as the commander of the navy.

Another attack by the Osmanlis began on the night of 21-22 April which included 70 ships from Tophane to Kasim Pasha the wooden slipway and into the Gulf to destroy the weaker walls of the city. This is a successful attacks and affected the moral of the Byzantines.

On May 6, 4 hours after sunset, another attack was started but unfortunately the attack unable to defeated the firm defence of the Byzantines . The failed attack did not demoralized the Muslims and the start another attack 6 days later (May 12) and this time the soldiers were successful to enter the holes that have been made earlier. However, the Byzantines sent more soldiers there and managed to stop the attacks.

18 brave soldiers lead by Ulubaldi Hasan try another attack by climbing the high wall but all of them were martyred . The bravery of these soldiers raised the moral of other soldiers and many of them climbs all those high walls to attack the Byzantines.

However, at the time when victory are almost in hand, some problems exist regarding to other parts of the Osmanli Devlet. Hungarian ambassadors arrived with news that Jan Hunyadi was dethrone by King Ladislas who planned to gather a large number of troops to attack Osmanli Devlet if the Muslim did not stop the siege. Sultan Mehemmed II seeks the opinions of his advisers and they came with various opinions. Cenderali Halil Pasha who have confronted the Christians in many battles feels that the Muslim should withdraw from the siege and concentrate on the Hungarians . In contrast with it , Spiritual Master of the Sultan, Sheyh Akshemseddin and Vezir Zaganos Pasha feels that it is worthwhile to presume the attacks against the Byzantines. They , finally came to the decision to resume the attacks towards the city of Constantinople.

The city of Constantinople were captured after the final attack before the subh prayer on Tuesday, 29th. May 1453; through Topkapusu Gate.The troops of the mujahid were victoriously enter the city that had for decades, stubbornly resisted many attacks of the Muslim.

After the Historic Victory

On the day of the opening of Constantinople to Islam, the young, 21 years-old Sultan Mehemmed II converted the Hagia Sophia Cathedral to a mosque and he leads the first juma’ah prayer there. He also offered a general amnesty to the city’s citizens and later on conveyed a big number of Muslims from Anatolia to the city. The next step is he appointed Gennadois , one of the most notable person there, as the Patriarch of the Orthodox. This mean that non-Muslims are free to perform their own religious beliefs. Then, with the help of his spiritual master, Sheyh Akshemseddin who help him identified the burial place of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari; he built a beautiful tomb and mosque in respect of the great companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


The opening of the city marked the beginning of the Modern Era and the demolition of the Medieval Era as Osmanlis have made the city a metropolitan city in the sense that the citizens were treated equally and with justice regardless their religious belief or color of their skins in the city that were after the opening, rename Istanbol.For years later, Istanbul become an important center of Islam under the administration of the Osmanli Devlet.

As Sultan Fatih’s opening of Istanbul marked the end of the East Roman Empire, the Devlet now were regarded as the sole leader of the Muslims and at same time marked the declining era of the Mamluks and other small Islamic states .

Economically, the open of the city greatly benefited the Osmanli Devlet as it now controls the trades of silk and spice. The benefit were so great that managed the Devlet to strengthen its power and used the money to improve the Devlet.

For the Christians, the opening of the city really shocked them as they have to face greater military, spiritual , economy and social conflicts against the Osmanlis. They have to find ways to break the monopoly of the Muslims in those fields.


The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Fatih formally ushered a new era , that of the empire of Osmanli. The Caliph installed himself astride the Bosphorus with one foot in Asia and the other in Europe . His expanding domain made him heir not only to Byzantine but also, through the destruction of the Mamluk power, the successor states of the Arab caliphate. The inheritance of lands from both East and West had its counterpart in the inheritance of ideas , and the combined heritage is perhaps the most pregnant fact in the history of the Osmanli Devlet.

[1] Gazis : Mujahids , fighters for the cause of Islam.

[2] Commander of the navy.